Labor Day Air Parade
For immediate release – August 25, 2020
Town of Canton
Look to the skies of Canton and Haywood County this Labor Day for a special salute to our frontline workers
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on the annual Canton Labor Day Celebration, Haywood County citizens and visitors alike will still have a very special event to look forward to on Monday, September 7 – a patriotic flyover air parade honoring our local frontline workers.
Made possible by a generous grant from the Cruso Endowment Fund gifted on behalf of the Town of Canton and Pisgah High School, the skies of Canton and Haywood County will play host to the famous Bandit Flight Team whose county-wide air parade will salute the men and women who have worked tirelessly to keep the citizens of Haywood County safe, healthy, and running during this unprecedented time. And what better day to pay tribute than Labor Day, a holiday that gives national recognition to the contributions and strength of the American worker; especially in Canton who has the history of the longest continuous Labor Day celebration in the southeastern United States.
“As we are every year, we are very thankful for the commitment and dedication of our local workforce, especially now, as they have helped Canton and Haywood weather the COVID crisis. Though health restrictions forced us to cancel Canton’s traditional Labor Day events and parade, we wanted to ensure this special holiday did not pass us without a proper celebration. Therefore we are honoring our workforce and essential workers with the assistance of the Bandit Flight Team who will perform a special aerial parade in the skies of Canton and Haywood County to say thank you and job well-done,” said Zeb Smathers, Mayor of Canton.
The Bandits, based in the Raleigh area, are a group of highly-trained, experienced pilots who combine their love of flying with an appreciation for vintage military aircraft while working to preserve the military Warbird heritage. The team specializes in variety of flyovers, performing at 40-50 events per year.
Flying proudly under their motto “Flying for the Flag”, the September 7 parade flight route will take the Bandits high above Hazelwood just before noon at precisely 11:54 AM, where they will then proceed to fly over Main Street in Waynesville, followed by a turn that will bring them above Haywood Regional Medical Center as they salute our healthcare workers. They will then continue over Clyde and make a pass over of Canton at 12:00 PM as the Evergreen Packaging noon whistle sounds, honoring the history and dedication of the town’s local mill workers. After this pass, the Bandits will perform a brief air show over downtown Canton, making another pass from the north over Canton with their signature “bomb burst”, followed by a circle of downtown Canton with the six planes in trail formation.
Where to view the air parade
To view the parade you will simply need to look to the sky late morning through noon as the Bandits cross over each location enroute to the performance in Canton. We also ask that you please follow the rules of North Carolina’s state-wide pandemic mandates, follow social distancing guidelines and refrain from gathering in large crowds to view the parade.
About the Bandit Flight Team
The team was formed in 2010 and is comprised of highly trained and experienced formation pilots and ground coordinators combining their love of flying to create a lasting impression at any event. The Bandits currently have 19 team members, all volunteers. The pilots own and maintain their individual planes, and all have Commercial and FAA Formation licenses. The team is based at Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford, NC. The majority of the coordinators are also pilots.
“Bandits 12 O’clock High” was a familiar call in World War Two. The term “Bandits” is the aviation name for unidentified aircraft. The Bandit Flight Team adopted this aviation term as their team name, and at an event if you see unidentified aircraft approaching it is probably “The Bandits.”
The Bandit Flight Team planes
- 9 RV Vans aerobatic sport aircraft—RVs are two-seat, single-engine aircraft sold in kit form by Van’s Aircraft in the US. The Bandits fly models RV-4, RV-6, RV-7, RV-8, and RV-14.
- 2 Russian YAK 52s—The YAKs were designed and built as military trainers and are fully aerobatic.
- All Bandit aircraft are equipped with internal smoke systems, and the majority are also equipped with pyrotechnics for nighttime flyovers. Press note: For more information about the Bandit Flight Team and to request an interview please contact Jim Kilpatrick: 919-345-3142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.